August 2, 2012

Preseason RivalsHigh100: Teams 20-16

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Dallas Jackson is the High School Football analyst for Email him your question, comment or story ideas to and follow him on Twitter. began its 2012 countdown last Monday, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.

We started at No. 100 and will release two groups of five teams per day. Then, we'll do a daily countdown from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Wednesday, Aug. 8 - just 10 days from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Aug. 27 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

The team rankings were compiled by high school sports senior analyst Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.

View the complete rankings timeline if you missed anything | Final 2011 Expanded Rankings

Top 100 countdown
No. 20 Ensworth, Tennessee

Coach: Ricky Bowers
Last Season: 12-1, Tennessee Division II Champions. Ranked No. 39 nationally.
Fast Fact: Head coach Ricky Bowers cut his teeth as a head coach at rival Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy making it one of the powers in the state and pushing it to national relevancy. In his nine years at Ensworth, Bowers has taken its program to the same heights winning state titles and sending numerous players to FBS-level schools.
Key Player: Running back Corn Elder. The four-star do-everything player is the focal point for Ensworth -- he is the team's leading rusher, a solid receiver and also plays defensive back. Elder is currently ranked as the No. 190 overall player in the country by and has offers from all over the country. He was named Mr. Football for the state of Tennessee as a junior and has set a goal to repeat that honor.
The Good: Returning talent. Ensworth returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense. It also returns a very talented sophomore and junior class that could make this one of the best teams the state of Tennessee has had in many years. Quarterback, and coach's son, Andrew Bowers comes back after a 2,200 yard passing season. Four-of-five offensive line starters return as well as two on the defensive line, three linebackers that saw significant time, and the secondary returns intact. The youth infusion will see sophomore Rico McGraw push for major playing time - he already has an offer from Alabama.
The Bad: Who will be the on-field leader? Last season, linebacker Austin Prevost was an emotional leader for the defense and helped Elder grind the tough yards as his fullback. There were few rallying points on the Ensworth team as most players maintain the cool demeanor of Coach Bowers and if the team gets pushed to the wall it will be interesting to see which player takes the role of sparkplug.
The bottom line is Enworth is loaded and so long as it maintains its focus it will repeat as state champions. The nation will see the talent on the field as its second game against Lexington (Ky.) Catholic will be aired on the ESPN family of networks and it could be a major coming-out party for Elder. Ensworth, largely because of Bowers' steady hand, has pushed its way to the top team in Middle Tennessee and in the private school division it really has widened its gap on Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy and Montgomery Bell Academy.

Top 100 countdown
No. 19 Oscar Smith, Virginia

Coach: Richard Morgan
Last Season: 14-1, Virginia Division 6 Champions. Ranked No. 95 nationally.
Fast Fact: Oscar Smith football is a relative newcomer to the national stage; it only really began to emerge as a serious player in 2007. In 2008, the team won its first ever state championship (in any sport) in the school's 54-year history. Oscar Smith won another title in 2011, and is the favorite for its third entering this season.
Key Player: Quarterback Dashawn Blow. Blow will be a new face for the program that is predicated on moving the ball through the air and has a recent run of solid quarterback play. With the return of Melvin Vaughn and Zack Jones at the receiver position there will be plenty of support for Blow but he still must make the throws. Early reports are that he has found a good rhythm and is throwing the ball well but only actual game time will tell.
The Good: The offense. Oscar Smith is among the most dynamic offenses in the Atlantic East region and this year it will return three on the offensive line, with Shedrick Olive, Troye Harris, and Jaleel Shelton to go with receivers Vaughn, Jones and junior Jaylen Bradshaw. Running backs Marcus Smith and Deshawn McClease will also make an impact. There will be few holes on the offensive side of the ball and that should power the team to another state title.
The Bad: The secondary. The Tigers were not the strongest in the secondary last season, so the team could take a step back early as it will be breaking in three new players in the defensive backfield. The hope is that the defensive line -- with Kanyia Anderson, Darren Flowers and transfer Andrew Brown -- can put enough pressure on the opposition to cover the holes in the secondary. Vaughn will remain at the linebacker position to help support the run but that will not cover up the spaces that teams could find to throw into.
The bottom line is Oscar Smith and Phoebus will likely be battling for the top spot in the state but (again) it will be a verbal battle as the two will not meet. An early season game with Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes will be a measuring stick for the program and a match that will test the secondary as Byrnes will be throwing the ball around the field.

Top 100 countdown
No. 18 Butler, North Carolina

Coach: Brian Hales
Last Season: 11-2, Class 4AA quarterfinalist. Ranked No. 6 in North Carolina.
Fast Fact: Last season, Butler had disappointing bookend losses - opening with a 28-20 setback to Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek and then closing with a stunning 40-26 loss to Greensboro (N.C.) Page. This year, there is partial revenge available as Butler opens with Mallard Creek.
Key Player: Quarterback Riley Ferguson. A three-year starter at quarterback, Ferguson will look to guide the team to a state title much the way he did as a sophomore. When Ferguson was not expected to carry the load he was much more successful then when he was front-and-center and that could be a another bump in the road this year unless the Bulldogs are able to sure up the rushing attack and allow Ferguson to be a game manager instead of a gunslinger.
The Good: The defense. While the offensive stars will get the headlines it is the defensive front seven that will be the unit that stands tall. It is highlighted by four-star linebacker Peter Kalambayi but he is not alone with Sean Wiggins and Todjrei Graham alongside. The lineman will be unheralded but solid with Darrin Dubose, Grant Polofsky, and Corwin White joining in. The secondary is hardly the weak-link with three starters returning. Teams will find it hard to move the ball through the air or on the ground with this team returning eight starters and several other key contributors.
The Bad: The offensive line. This group was hit hardest by graduation as three players are gone. Joseph Moody and Mike McCraughtry return but those are the only two. With Ferguson playing quarterback and Uriah LeMay as a receiver there is talented skill players and the split at running back between Josh Glisson and the youngest LeMay, Benny, moving the ball.
The bottom line is Butler appears to again be the class of the state. Last season there was a glut of teams all year that looked the part and it took until the playoffs to separate them all but with graduation losses hitting many other schools in North Carolina hard this year looks like it could be a run away for Butler.

Top 100 countdown
No. 17 Camden County, Georgia

Coach: Jeff Herron
Last Season: 12-1, lost in Georgia AAAAA quarterfinals. Ranked No. 43 nationally.
Fast Fact: Camden County has not had more than two losses in any of the last 10 seasons and has claimed three state titles in that time period. Its three titles in 2003, 2008 and 2009 makes the team one of the most successful in Georgia AAAAA over that span.
Key Player: All-everything J.J. Green. Green is all over the field for the Wildcats but will be the primary ball carrier in the team's hybrid Wing-T offense. The Georgia commit will team with quarterback and fellow Bulldog-to-be Brice Ramsey to pace the offense. Green is an explosive player that can score any time he touches the ball.
The Good: Returning talent. The Wildcats return almost its entire offensive unit, while replacing many on defense. Led my Ramsey and Green the team should be fine as well as give the option to throw the ball more this season as Ramsey has progressed in his game. The offensive line, headlined by South Carolina commit J.P. Vonashek is well-versed in the offense and should be reliable as always.
The Bad: A brand new Region. Arguments against Camden County in the past always centered around the weak Region in which the team played, and when the team wasn't winning state titles those arguments gained steam. This season that safety net will be pulled out as the team has moved into Region 1-AAAAAA with Valdosta, Lowndes and Colquitt County. The team will be plenty battle tested, and road tested as each trip is a two hour drive one way, before the playoffs even begin.
The bottom line is Camden County will have a chance to win a national title with a perfect season in 2012. Coach Herron has stated that it is a personal goal to finish atop a national ranking and with the regular season schedule in addition to the potential playoff path would give the team a resume as strong as any. The defense will need to rise to the occasion and that would be the only thing that holds it back during this season.

Top 100 countdown
No. 16 Central, Florida

Coach: Terry Lockette
Last Season: 13-1, Florida Class 7A runner-up. Ranked No. 27 nationally.
Fast Fact: Miami Central won five games by four points or less last season as it pushed to a state title appearance. It fell in the finals to Seffner (Fla.) Armwood but Armwood had to vacate the title as it was found to be playing with multiple ineligible players.
Key Player: Running backs Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby. It is pretty incredible to think that both of these players are just juniors but each have been magnificent for the team. Cook is already a Clemson commit while Yearby is headed to Florida State. While many think of the Rockets as a team that spreads the field and fires the ball around the field the past few seasons the group has become more old school and fundamentally sound as it has pounded the ball in the run game and these two can lead the charge again.
The Good: Discipline is on the rise. It was not too long ago that it was a matter of when and not if Miami Central would shoot itself in the foot but those days seem to be well in the rearview mirror. The team has been much more disciplined the last two seasons and the overall product on the field has improved. That is a credit to the coaches as well as the players. Miami Central will always be among the most talented teams in the country and often those rosters are full of player who do not want to take coaching but the group coming though right now has been very willing to learn.
The Bad: The schedule. This Miami Central team could be the first team in the history of the RivalsHigh 100 poll to start the year 0-4 and maintain its ranking. It is unlikely that it will happen but with games against three teams that will be ranked ahead of the Rockets in the first three weeks and then a team ranked inside the Top 50 to close September, there is not a team in the country that can claim that schedule.
The bottom line is Miami Central may be the team in the pole position for a national title with an undefeated season. The team opens with Georgia favorite Loganville (Ga.) Grayson and then two road games against Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington and Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee. All three could be preseason Top 10 teams. The results of those games will make the rankings for the Rockets as well as set the tone for the season. It is a high risk with an amazingly high reward opportunity.

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